Saudi Aramco plans tourism training center in economic reform drive

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National oil giant Saudi Aramco will establish a center to train workers in Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry as part of the government’s drive to develop the economy beyond the oil sector.

Aramco agreed with a state-controlled vocational education body and the kingdom’s tourism commission to train young Saudis for the tourism and hotel sectors, as well as in the management of other public and private facilities, it said on Wednesday.

Officials want the tourism center to handle 5,000 male and female trainees within four years, Aramco said without giving financial details. The government is keen to develop Islamic tourism as part of drive to diversify the economy beyond oil.

Although Aramco focuses on the production of oil, gas and petrochemicals it is often enlisted in other government initiatives because it is Saudi Arabia’s biggest company and one of its most efficient.

The company, which plans an initial public offer of its shares to local and foreign investors next year, unveiled plans last year to build a $5 billion shipbuilding complex and opened an $800 million cultural center in Dhahran in December.

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